Instrument Designer Fine-Tunes Talents to Make Beautiful Music

Torrance resident Antonio Rizzo, who once made instruments for spacecraft, has turned his talent to making instruments for classical musicians.

Rizzo started making violins after he retired from his job as a mechanical and design engineer at TRW six years ago. One of his first customers was classical musician Troy Googins, whose uncle worked with Rizzo at TRW. Googins bought two of Rizzo’s hand-crafted violins while visiting Torrance from his home in Japan.

Rizzo will hear one of his instruments played when Googins performs in a benefit concert in Torrance on Friday.

Rizzo has made 19 instruments, including cellos and violas, and is building five more. They sell for $1,000 to $8,000.


“I had made a classical guitar before retiring, but I am kind of self-taught,” Rizzo said. In recent years his violins have won prizes for tone and clarity from the national Violin Makers’ Assn. based in Tucson.

Googins, born in the United States to a Japanese mother and German father, has lived in Japan for seven years and is a member of the Orchestra Ensemble Kanazawa. On Friday, he will perform in a duo called “Rayon de Soleil.”

The other half of Rayon De Soleil is pianist Akiko Inoue, who has played since she was 3. Inoue studied in Germany and Italy before returning to Japan, where she performs solo recitals and chamber concerts.

The program will feature works by Mozart, Beethoven and Prokofiev. The single performance will be at 8 p.m. in the James R. Armstrong Theatre, 3330 Civic Center Drive. Tickets are $8 to $12. Information: (310) 781-7171.


The musicians will donate half of the proceeds from the concert to earthquake victims.